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Val Cenis Review

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Val Cenis Review

Rating: ★★★★ 7.5 out of 10

“Val Cenis is the biggest and the best resort in Eski-Mo domain. It is situated on the French-Italian border. Val Cenis is quiet, slopes are not crowded and it is best suited for beginners. Expert skiers might get bored after several days but they can always explore other resorts in the domain. Prices are reasonable. It consists of 5 villages along the valley: Termignon, Lanslebourg, Lanslevillard, Les Champs and Le Haut. There are no big apartment blocks typical of other more famous French resorts. The views are beautiful.”

Pros: not crowded, traditional, old-fashioned feeling with the latest lifts and slope grooming, affordable, great scenery

Cons: better skiers might get bored after several days, quiet evenings

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SLOPES

The Eski-Mo domain, which Val Cenis is a part of, is a combination of 5 different (non-connected) resorts. Together they have 335 km of slopes. With a ski pass for the whole domain you will be able to visit Aussois (55 km of runs), Bonneval (25 km), La Norma (65 km), and Valfrejus (65 km). If you get tired of Val Cenis you can use a shuttle bus which will take you to other resorts (from Tuesday to Thursday, every day to a different resort – see timetable). If you have a car you can also visit other resorts in the domain, or you can head to Orelle. It is only 40 km away and it is connected to Val Thorens (3 Valleys). You will have to pay 22 EUR extra (a great price for a chance to visit one of the best domains in the world).

After general information about the whole Eski-Mo domain, back to Val Cenis review. Val Cenis itself has 125 km of pistes. The highest peak of the resort is situated at 2,800 m. From there you can enjoy a lovely view of a lake called Lac du Mont Cenis, and Italy. It is one of the most beautiful panoramas in the French Alps. Resort management has built a viewing platform to enhance the experience. There is also a camera connected to the internet, so you will be able to share your photos automatically with the rest of the world.

The slopes will suit beginners the most, since there is a large number of green and blue runs. The resort boasts with the longest green run in Europe. Intermediate skiers will find a considerable share of red ones but there are only several short, black, pistes. We were there during December and slopes were empty (a sharp contrast to Val Thorens which we visited at the same time). All members of the group had the same feeling – that we were alone on the mountain. Higher pistes are wide and treeless, while lower parts are in the woods. There are serpentines in the lower parts which will help beginners to get back to their accommodation safe and sound.

Grooming is very well done. The resort has lot of snow-making machines because lower parts have trouble with snow. When we were there the officials did a good job maintaining pistes around base stations.

val cenis mountains panorama

FREERIDE AND TERRAIN PARKS IN VAL CENIS

There are lot of wide open slopes around TSF 4 Met lift (highest area of the resort) where you can go off piste. Also you will be able to find nice parts of wooded terrain where you will be able to ski away from groomed slopes. Good news is that you will find unspoilt freeride spots days after snowfall due to lack of off piste fanatics. You might also want to visit Bonneval sur Arc (part of Eski-Mo domain). It has only 3 chair lifts and 25 km of slopes but a vast area for freeriding.

There is a small snow park called Easypark. It is for families and beginners. The park has boxes, rails and mini kickers. It is situated in Termignon just by Lac lift. There are 3 beginner level bordercross runs. Two of them are situated in areas around Lanservilard and Les Champs, and one near the snow park in Termignon.

val cenis mountain view

HOW TO GET TO VAL CENIS

Val Cenis is situated in Maurienne Valley which connects Italy and France. Closest airport is at Chambéry, it is 137 km away (it will take you 1h 45 min by car). Turin airport is 145 km away, so the trip will take 2h by car. If you rent a car to get from Turin to Val Cenis you will have to pass through Frejus tunnel which will cost you 55 EUR (ask for a return ticket right away otherwise it will cost you around 90 EUR total). Grenoble airport is 219 km away (2h 30 min by car).

Closest train station is at Modane. It lies on the railway between Turin and Paris. It’s 29km from Modane to Val Cenis, and it will take you 45 min by car.

val cenis lake on sunny day

WHERE TO STAY IN VAL CENIS

In my opinion the best two place to stay would be Lanslebourg and Lanslevillard. Lanslebourg is situated in the middle section of Val Cenis, therefore you will be able to get to all parts of the resort pretty fast. It is a village full of old houses 2 to 3 floors tall, a place where you will feel the archaic charm of Alps. There are no big concrete residential blocks. On the other hand, if you stay in Lanslevilard you will have faster access to the best slopes, situated around the highest peak of the resort. Architecture is more recent, and all buildings are made in chalet style.

If you stay in Termignon you will need a lot of time to get to other parts of the resort. Le Haut has new self-catering apartments and flat slopes connected to Lanslevillard.

You will be able to use free shuttle buses, but be aware of the distance between your accommodation and closest lifts and slopes because only a small part of them has ski in/out access.

val cenis panorama

WHAT TO DO AFTER A DAY ON SNOW (APRES-SKI) IN VAL CENIS

There isn’t a significant number of restaurants on the slopes. We liked the one on top of TCD 6 Vieux Moulin gondola.  You won’t find any night clubs but there is a good choice of small family-run restaurants with delicious local food. Lanslevillard has the most generous choice of these. Evenings are quiet because everything closes by 11 o’clock.

You can also visit Barrière de l’Esseillon, a fortified complex built in the 19th century by Victor-Emmanuel I. It was used to protect the Italian border from the French forces. Nowadays it is an interesting historic site with a restaurant, adventure park, hiking routes and lots of places to explore. L’Esseillon is 20 km away, you will need 30 min to get there by car.

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